Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

There's nothing like a versatile recipe to make my day. Add to that affordable and quick and you have a real winner for me. With so many picky eaters in this household, it's difficult to make something that everyone will like. This sandwich can be made with any meat or cheese and come out just as good so experiment a little like we do. Switch out the ham for turkey or the provolone for Swiss or cheddar. There really is no end to the combinations with this recipe.

The original recipe (this is actually quite old) most often calls for a sweeter roll like Hawaiian, but the miniature Portuguese rolls I used were perfect as well. I still think the glaze could be a little sweeter, but everyone else here was fine with them as-is.
Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
Makes one 9x13 pan
Printable Recipe

1 stick butter or margarine (to heck with cholesterol, we all know butter is better)
3 Tablespoons honey mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
12 - 16 small rolls such as King's Hawaiian
3/4 pound thinly sliced ham
1/2 pound sliced provolone

1. Melt butter and stir in honey mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
2. Brush the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan with glaze.
3. Split rolls in half horizontally and layer the bottom of the pan with the bottom halves of rolls.
4. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with glaze and layer ham and cheese on each roll.
5. Place top halves of rolls on the sandwiches and brush with remaining glaze.
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rice Pudding and Raw Milk

Just about a year ago I began buying raw milk. Not for daily or even weekly consumption, but for a once-in-awhile thing. I'm not completely sure what my motivation was beyond the fact that it's a bit controversial and from much that I've read, if conditions are right, it isn't all together unsafe. In fact, for many people with lactose intolerance, raw milk can be a Godsend.

Nobody here has lactose issues, and for the most part I'm fully happy with the pasteurized 2% that I buy for daily use, but the crunchy/hippie/farmer type in me had to go out and give it a try. I wrote about the first couple excursions at Blog Catalog, so I won't repeat myself, but I will add that the scene changes ever so slightly each time I visit the farm. Sometimes it's laundry day, sometimes there's nothing going on; this time it was ... meat grinding day?

Saturday was rather gray and blah, and the farm looking austere from the lack of foliage on the trees only added to it. Once I walked into the garage however, the air took on an almost sinister feel when I caught sight of a young Mennonite man pushing meat into a grinder. Add to it the fact that he had a strange grin on his face and the whole scene became a bit "Children of the Corn".

I'm hopeful the meat was for personal consumption and not for sale, because thinking of eating anything from that farm other than milk, eggs or honey safely ensconced in plastic jugs, cardboard egg containers and glass jars makes me feel a little queasy. No matter, I grabbed what I'd come for and left without looking back (except to look at the chickens, can't help myself).

Then came the question of what I'd be making with these 'less-than-usual' ingredients I'd traveled nearly 30 miles for. No idea, as usual, it's just something I like to do and I usually figure it all out later. This time it turned out to be rice pudding. I have several kids who can never get enough of this, and my step-father always gets a container, but it takes a few hours to make, so I don't tackle it too often.

Raw milk is perfect for this. The original recipe uses 8 cups (half a gallon) of milk to a single cup of rice, so the result is ultra rich and creamy and raw milk, with its full-fat content from the layer of cream atop can only add to it. I don't care how bad it is, it's not something we have frequently, so we'll counter it with steam for dinner a couple nights this week.

It may seem a waste to cook with raw milk, but there's more to using raw milk than the mere fact that it hasn't been pasteurized or homogenized, just like there's a point to buying milk directly from a farm that produces it: flavor. I could well purchase whole milk for this right at the local grocery, but there is no denying that the flavor of fresh milk, raw or otherwise, is far superior to that found in the standard dairy case. Besides, only half is used to make this recipe, the rest is consumed straight-up or in cereal where everyone gets the most benefit from it.

If you have the time to do this (a lazy Sunday would be good) give it a try. It takes frequent checking and stirring, but the end result is so worth it, you'll be glad you took the time to make it. This was also posted at a couple years ago.

Rice Pudding
Serves 8-12
Printable Recipe

1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
8 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped - set aside seeds

Cook the rice in the water following package directions -- this usually means adding the rice to the water, bringing to a brief boil, reducing heat and simmering, covered tighly for 20 minutes until the rice absorbs all the water and is tender.

In a large pot combine the cooked rice, milk and scraped vanilla bean if you're using it. Cook over a very low flame, stirring from time to time (every 10 minutes is good), until all the milk has cooked into the rice. This can take an hour to an hour and a half. You'll also have to skim the top 'skin' that forms each time you stir.

Once the milk is absorbed, remove from the heat, remove the vanilla bean if used and quickly add the beaten egg, stirring constantly so the egg thickens the pudding but does not cook. Stir in the sugar and vanilla seeds or extract until well combined.

Pour into a large flat pan like a 9x13 baking pan. Cool in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours before serving.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011 Announces Winners of 2011 Best Packaged Food Awards

New York, NY, March 1, put packaged foods to the test once again this year, revealing 21 winners of the website’s “Best Packaged Food Awards.” Winners were divided into categories, including best cereal, best pasta sauce, best yogurt, best soup, and best ice cream. To determine the winners, asked registered dietitians and food bloggers to recommend their favorite new and healthy packaged foods. Each product was tested and tasted by our editors and then narrowed down to the final list of the top 21 choices.

Said Deborah Wilburn, Executive Editor,, “Packaged foods have a bad reputation, but cooking from scratch all the time can be unrealistic. We want to give our readers the healthiest, most delicious options for the meals they’re actually cooking on a daily basis. Each of our winners not only tastes terrific, but all are trans fat-free, lower in sodium and sugar than their competitors, and are chock-full of key nutrients.”

Here is the complete list of’s “Best Packaged Food Awards” winners for 2011. A feature on the award winners can be found at

· Best Cereal: Ambrosial Venetian Vineyard Granola
This sweet and crunchy organic granola wowed editors’ taste buds with the combination of walnuts, dates, and raisins. It packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, 28 grams of whole grains, and has no added oil. Though it’s a little caloric, at 230 calories and 7 grams of fat per half-cup serving, it contains 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 10% of your daily dose of iron.

· Best Oatmeal: Country Choice Organic Instant Oatmeal With Flax
With just two ingredients—whole grain rolled oats and flaxseed—you know you’re starting the day with a healthy, fiber-filled breakfast.

· Best Yogurt: Chobani Lemon 0% Greek Yogurt
The new flavor of this uber-popular yogurt brand boasts a delicious, not-too-sweet citrus taste that still provides all the nutritional benefits of Greek yogurt. This nonfat yogurt contains 140 calories and provides you with nearly one-third of your daily intake of protein as well as 15% of your daily calcium.

· Best Cheese: Sargento Sliced Reduced Sodium Pepper Jack Cheese
It’s hard to cut down on salt without cutting down on flavor, but this reduced sodium cheese has a deliciously bold taste. With 70 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 90 mg of sodium, this cheese is diet-friendly.

· Best Wrap: Tumaro’s New York Deli-Style Wraps in Pumpernickel
Get the distinctive taste of your favorite bread in a low-cal wrap. With just 80 calories per serving, the pumpernickel variety is made from whole-wheat flour and has a delicious deli flavor you don’t find in many wraps.

· Best Pasta: Annie Chun’s Pad Thai Brown Rice Noodles
This 100% whole grain pasta is a delicious substitute for brown rice, with none of the grainy texture some whole-wheat pastas can have. It’s a gluten-free alternative that’s delicious in stir-fries, soups, or pasta salads, and each serving boasts 4g of fiber.

· Best Deli Meat: Applegate Farms Organic Roasted Turkey Breast
This organic meat has a wholesome and delicious flavor and is free of preservatives, antibiotics, and nitrates. Though a serving contains 360 mg of sodium, it is comparatively lower than other packaged sliced turkey breast.

· Best Meat: Coleman Natural’s Chicken Meatballs Spinach, Fontina Cheese, and Roasted Garlic
These 100% natural pre-cooked chicken meatballs are free of fillers and preservatives, but full of savory flavor. Even though they contain a good bit of sodium—470 mg—they got RD and ADA spokesperson Sari Greaves’ seal of approval. “Stick to one serving and balance them with a side of steamed vegetables or a salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar/fresh lemon juice,” she advises.

· Best Fish: Wild Planet Canned Wild Albacore Tuna
This canned fish is sustainably caught using environmentalist-approved fishing methods. It's far lower in mercury and much higher in omega-3s than other canned tuna.

· Best Vegetarian Entrée: Amy’s Light and Lean Black Bean and Cheese Enchilada
The filling entrée contains only 240 calories, but our tasters said it kept them full for hours, and they loved the rich and bold Southwestern flavors. Added bonus: it’s 94% organic.

· Best Soup: Trader Joe’s Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup Low-Sodium
Thick and savory, this boxed soup is so delicious, you’d never know it was low in sodium.

· Best Kid-Friendly Dish: Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Potato Littles
These adorable sweet potato bites will be devoured in seconds. Plus, with just a few ingredients, your family won’t be getting any unwanted extras.

· Best Chips: Laurel Hill Multigrain Chips
Brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, and stone ground yellow corn combine to add fiber to this snack, and the light, crispy texture and perfect hint of salt will keep you coming back for more.

· Best Nuts: Planters Jalapeño Pistachios
Tasters loved the spicy taste of these nuts, and pistachios are rich in heart-healthy fats, a good source of protein, and studies show they may help lower cholesterol.

· Best Bar: KIND Bars Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachios
One look at this bar and you can actually see the almonds, cashews, blueberries, and raisins, packaged into an on-the-go bar. Testers liked the tart and tangy bar that wasn’t “too sweet.” With 50% of vitamins A, C, and E, you can be sure you’re getting health boost in each bite.

· Best Juice: Apple & Eve Fruitables Tropical Orange Juice
Although it’s always better to get your vitamins from whole fruit, these drinks are refreshingly light. Juices from fruits and veggies, including oranges, butternut squash, and carrots, are combined with water in a portion-controlled 6.75 ounce container, with one-third less sugar than other fruit drinks.

· Best Milk: Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened Almond Milk
This rich and creamy beverage is gaining popularity not only for its taste, but also its nutrition. With fewer calories than skim milk, you can get 20% of your calcium and 50% of your recommended intake of vitamin E in a to-go package.

· Best Tea: Numi Tea NUMI Monkey King Jasmine Green Tea (certified organic)
Green tea is full of antioxidants and has powerful disease-fighting capabilities. This jasmine-flavored caffeinated tea was a hit with our tasters.

· Best Nut Butter: Barney Butter Almond Butter Snack Packs
These 90-calorie portable packets offer easy portion control, which is crucial for this category since nut butters can be high in calories.

· Best Marinara: Lucini Rustic Tomato Basil Sauce
Each bite of this marinara sauce is bursting with authentic Italian-flavor. The ingredient list is full of whole foods—tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, onions—and it is sweetened with carrot puree, not processed sugar.

· Best Ice Cream: Talenti Argentine Dulce De Leche Gelato
This all-natural ice cream is made with milk that’s free of hormones and real Argentine dulce de leche, luxurious flavors that make it worth the splurge.

This list of winners is a featured part of’s new Healthy Eating Center, which also boasts the new recipe finder – an online tool that allows visitors to explore editor and reader favorites and search by categories from meatless main dishes to make-ahead meals.

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Prevention is the nation's leading healthy lifestyle brand, with a U.S. magazine audience of 10.2 million readers, 3.5 million readers internationally of 16 international editions, and a top digital destination that has 2.6 million unique visitors each month, 22 million page views, and 1.3 million newsletter subscribers. Each year, nearly 50 million Prevention products are sold, including books, special-interest magazines and bookazines, and DVDs. Prevention's Twitter handle is @PreventionMag and Prevention can be found on Facebook at Prevention magazine and its apps are available on the iPhone and iPad.

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